Nigel McLoughlin was born in 1968, in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, N. Ireland. He received his education at St. Michael's College, Enniskillen and Queen's University, Belfast. He currently lives and works in Falcarragh, Co. Donegal.

He has had poetry published in over seventy literary journals and anthologies throughout Britain and Ireland, in the U.S. and on the Internet. These include: Honest Ulsterman, Ulster Tatler, Sunday Tribune, Books Ireland, Force 10, InCognito, Agenda, Acumen, New Writer, Envoi, Frogmore Papers, Cutting Teeth, At Last...,Sylva, Hybrid and Iota. He has also read his work on radio including: Radio Ulster, Radio Foyle and Anna Livia FM. And at Literary events and festivals all over Ireland and in Britain including: Dublin, Belfast, Galway, Edinburgh and Portsmouth.

He led Fermanagh Writers Circle from 1993 to 1996 and has given workshops in creative writing. He has also published reviews, critical essays and short stories. He has edited three journals and is currently co-editing a special edition of 'Highbeams' a U.S. Internet magazine on the work of the younger Irish poets and is on the judging panel for the Cathal Bui Mac Giolla Ghunna Poetry Competition 2000 and editor of their journal.

He was short-listed for The Sunday Tribune - Hennessy New Irish Writing Awards in 1999 and a first collection is due out later this year. He is currently completing an MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Teach na hEigse (validated by the University Of Lancaster).


1. View From The Garden

Its just a short walk from mist
Into the dark; a statue's head peeps
Over a low wall to frighten lovers.
Telegraph poles stand like gibbets;
And birds whistle nervously in the dark.

In the mist each moonbeam lights
The trees, vernal with verdigris. A garden
Of remembrance, never planted; a grown
Over bomb site; a half demolished
Building; a monument covered up.

The carpark's chasm is overrun
With Beetles . And trees haloed by the moon
Stand silent as unknown soldiers, on guard.
The only sound remains; my feet
And the echoes in the silent places.

2. View From The Town

A street of palaces and pubs;
A courthouse crumbling and the church.
Hairdressers, whorehouses, leaded windows
Lattices and lechers, levity and debt.
This is Ireland.

Artificial arches, wallpaper and weeping;
Defunct post-office, townhall, death.
Chemists, chandeliers; litterbins and layabouts;
Dolls houses, dole offices, marriage, drink.
Buttresses and old banks, bridal boutiques
Shutters down against the cold.

Toyshops and graveyards, taxis and takeaways,
Hardware, software, charities and change.
Bank machines and bridges; bread and breakdowns;
Jewellers, general stores, butchers and tourists;
One bookshop, one town centre, all ivy and atrophy,
And in the middle of it - mist.

3. View From The Hill

Sky blue-black near dawn
And mist pervading pockets
Of full-moon light.
The town lights, pale red
And yellow, pin-pricks of sadness
On the mirror of the lough.

Translucent hues, skeletal trees;
Orange and white bouncing
From the upper veils
Of valleys filled like cups,
Under breasted hills; and paths
Where in the daylight years
We courted - just sixteen.

I can taste the air
Light as star-glow
Sharp and rich; clear.
I stand breathing life in;
Soul out like mist.

4. View From The Lough

Standing on a bridge, below a graveyard,
One step away from being entombed
In mist lying six feet deep, over water.
Where eerie silence and full moon glare
Light candles of recognition
In a lovers lonely stare.

Asking name of name - two lovers
Stand twisted, clasping hands -
Exchanging. Two beech saplings,
In mutual support, leaning inward
Against a brace of black topped buildings
Brightened by the moon - and moisture.

Reeds rustle over silent lakes;
I sit at a table damp with dew,
Topped with beer cans; lit
By the moon's corona. All hues
And glows and mildew. I strain
My sight to see ten yards ahead.

5. View From The Nightclub

Car radios beat steady as hearts:
Rhythm regulating engines.
Headlights under mist beam yellow
Under paler yellow streetlights;
Dogs bark as a jaundiced sun is rising.

Existing only in shades of carlight laser,
Distant shouts; as the nightclub
Throws out its last hoard of drunks.
Lighted cigarettes, flamed imaginations
And an ambulance swells cold against the night.
A bird sings to the light of the KFC.

Copyright © 2000 by Nigel McLoughlin

Some Go Dancing

"Some who go dancing through dark bogs are lost" - Louis MacNeice

There could be emeralds,
Topaz, amethysts in the sky
Where the setting sun
Makes a tiger's eye
Of the horizon.

It's nights like these she comes,
My fickle bitch, her red hair down,
Drawing me to the hills
That lie outside the town
And takes me dancing.

And I have danced with her
Where the moon hangs impaled
In branches or drowns, all night,
In lakes of dreams we sailed
Too easily.

And there are nights she leaves
Me to find my own way home
And I have danced down mountains,
Through dark bogs, have never known
That I was lost.

Copyright © 2000 by Nigel McLoughlin

Two Songs
(After John Berryman)


Among the stone and rock
Of my bleak garden, grew
A fragile bluebell, singular,
Mr Bones, and true
To it's colour, being frocked
Everywhere by gravel; it's head angular.

Until the day that Henry sent
The box by post, huge
And wooden and rectangular,
Edges sharp with letters rouged
'This way up', it meant
To keep the contents straight, untangled.

The postman left it on the ground
Just outside the door, pushed
Up against the wall.
I found the fragile bluebell crushed
And stencilled black: 'breakable'. I found
Nothing inside it, nothing at all.


I took to the drink after that.
You can't imagine the effect
That alcohol has, Mr Bones,
Brings a focus I never knew I had, deflects
Perspective from the pat
And turns the senses, turns the mind to stone.

- I know it, man, I know it
I seen what it can do
I've been there oftentimes myself,
Man, I wish I was you.
Well, Mr Bones, I grow
Wearier each day. I worry about my health.

What do you do when life has lost it's fun?
- I don't know, maybe sit down and talk
Or fetch another bottle from the fridge.
Mr Bones I think I'll take a walk.
- Where you goin', son?
I'm going to the bridge.

Copyright © 2000 by Nigel McLoughlin



You could see the old lachico
Any day, perched on the park
Bench, paying out the hours till
Sunset on beads of bread he fed
To birds. He appeared half-sidhe
Half-saoi, speaking rarely to
Any but the pigeons and the air.

He told me once, that he came
Early to the outside of this world,
That he had always known he
Had no share in it. He hid behind
His closed mouth, his fear,
His unransomed loneliness.
One day, he died there, quietly.

I went to his wake, one of the few
Willing to associate, who knew
He was harmless, less mad than he
Looked. And kneeling in the dark
Between two candles, I think I found
The word that stiffened on his lips, what
Prayer exhumed from the weeping wax.


He had eyes that could be tears
In tallow, could guide him
Through the darkness under
The lios, where the night,
He'd tell you, danced like lovers
Fingers on the skin. It was his:
The entire yielding black element.

It had named him early for its own,
Had mothered him and fathered him,
And warmed him in the comfort of alone.
It lingered on him still, a salt kiss
On those wax lips, as though his words
Might rise and fill the room: Come,
This way friend, feel your way in;
The dark is a woman with soporific skin.

Copyright © 2000 by Nigel McLoughlin

A Present from Pompeii

Shocked in a shell
Shaped paperweight,
A sea scene, simplified
To a sea horse, stones,
Starfish, weeds, shells.

A manufactured memory,
A light-weight imitation Pompeii,
Where pumice lovers fused,
And real life was ashed out,
Frozen for the future.

The sea horse swims forward,
As if wanting to be asked:
What Vesuvius poured over,
Entombed him under glass,
Painted his background black.

Copyright © 2000 by Nigel McLoughlin

The Yellow Bittern
(From the Irish of Cathal Bui Mac Giolla Ghunna)

I grieve, yellow bittern, over your death;
The sorry stretching of your bones.
For it was not hunger but the drouth
That left you lying belly-up and dead.
Far worse, this fate, than any fall of Troy,
To die upon the coul' bare stones.
You did no harm to any but yourself.
You drank ditchwater as well as any wine.

Beautiful bittern, my distress is great
To see you flat out upon the road.
Each day I would hear your boom astride
Your midden, gargling as you drank.
Many think your brother, Cathal, will meet
The self same end as you, not true,
My handsome bird, I know they're wrong
For it was want of drink that killed your song.

Young bittern, ah my sorrow's huge,
To see you stuck among the reeds,
The big rats traipsing to your wake
To have their fun and eat their fill.
If only you'd sent news in time
Of your need of drink, your sorry bind.
I'd have broken a hole in Vesey's lake,
To wet your lips and grease your throat.

I'll make no laments for other birds,
Not corncrake, cuckoo or grey heron,
But you my yellow bittern, full of heart,
Were my own like in style and colour.
I knew well you loved your drink,
And many say that I'm the same,
But I'll drink all I can rap and run,
For fear I die of thirst like you.

My girl says I should quit the drink
Or I'll not live much longer. But I
Told her to houl' her whist. For
Drinking makes me all the stronger.
Did you not all see that smooth necked bird,
Dead in a ditch, a short time back?
Well pals, put the bottle clean to your heads,
And take a drop to ease you for you're a long time dead.

Copyright © 2000 by Nigel McLoughlin

I'll Call No Help
(From the Irish of Aogán Ó Rathaille)

I'll call no help till I'm crushed to my coffin,
By all accounts, it wouldn't aid me if I did!
Our cornerstone, the strong-handed seed of Eoghan
Lies with veins flayed and his strength ebbing.

Waves rattle the brain, the prime hope is gone,
There's a void in the plexus, the bowels impaled.
Our land, our shelter, our woods and our plains
Are pennethed out by the hoard from Dover.

The Shannon, the Liffey, the musical Lee struck dumb
With the Barrow, Nuir, Suir and the Boyne;
The sides of Lough Derg and the great wave of Tóim
Run red since the Knave has stripped the crowned King.

My war cry continues, a spate of spilled tears
And tragedy tilts the scale of the mind,
And the music I hear as I wander the roads
Is the squeal of the pig that cannot be stuck.

Ah, hero of Rinn and Cill and Eoghancht country
Your belly is slack from want and neglect,
And a hawk holds the land, racks it with rent,
Shows favour to no-one, not even his own.

Because of the ruin of our royal line
Sweat harrows the furrows of my head in grief,
Becoming a source to send boiling streams
To the river that flows from Truipeall to Youghal.

I'll end it all here - for my last agony comes, now
The dragons are sundered from the Laune to the Lee
And I'll share my grave with the chief that I loved
And kings my kin served before the Passion of Christ.

Copyright © 2000 by Nigel McLoughlin